In the distant future, when people look back at their ancestry, they’ll be able to follow in really lucid detail up to a certain almost dramatic cutoff in information - the several decades around the year 2000, where we live today.
With respect to their lineage, they’ll likely have videos, digital files from their family and the world, recordings, detailed accounts for their careers, and so much more.
Perhaps even one day, such things as exact GPS coordinates of individuals at any point in their life will be accessible.
Of course, the amount of information available will steadily decrease as one goes further back in time, but the contrast that will present itself at the turn of the second millennium will undoubtedly stand out.
The invention of the internet and the “digital” world in general made it possible to record life in vivid detail, with unlimited layers of information.
Prior to it, history starts to get lost, at first losing sophisticated visual representations of life (video is relegated to photography, then to artistic representation, then to symbols, etc) and in parallel losing data about life as record keeping becomes less and less comprehensive.
Eventually, the only trace of anything at all from the past world are dusty ruins and greatly distorted word-of-mouth accounts passed down through the ages.
In any case, we alive today will be right at the nascence of the digital world and will thus be some of the first in our families to “appear” to the world.
We’ll show up in colored and high resolution videos, photos, audio recordings.
Through the internet all kinds of data will exist on us. Through personal digital hardware, our own data will be passed on and preserved, backed up.
Of the billions of people alive in the distant future, most everyone will be able to trace their family record in detail back to our generation.
We are, in a sense, the founding fathers of untold generations to come.
As time goes on, and the families branch and multiply, we can’t even imagine the genetic tree that potentially follows us.
And imagine that all these people will be able to look deep into their history until they come to us right now (and to some degree our parents and grandparents).
It’s easy to dismiss this reality as pure imagination, probably because it’s a bit daunting to accept.
In truth, there’s really no limit to how many descendants could originate from us and our families. Carried to a logical end, this could mean our lives may be important to millions of people to come.
Think about the average person.
The average person isn’t famous in their lifetime and really only are important to those they directly interact within their lives.
Famous people enjoy a legacy effect where they can continue to inspire people, or be relevant sources of wisdom, for centuries to come.
The average person though, after they pass away they eventually lose relevance to everyone.
That is, everyone except their descendants.
With respect to one’s family, everyone gains a certain degree of importance just for being a link in the chain of a family line, regardless of what they accomplished in life.
Ancestors are important to people, and the only reason people don’t go too far back in their history to see the details these days is because they simply can’t.
For me, I have information only to about my great grandfather, after which it just becomes a list of names.
Basically this means that, no matter what we do with our lives, if we start a family then we can’t help but be important people to anyone that follows us—which again, has no limit.
And it’s very likely that all these descendants will be able to reliably trace their family back to us, no matter how far in the future we are talking (5000 years, why not?).
Therefore, our lives may seem insignificant at times, but in reality we occupy a position of such supreme importance that it can hardly be overstated.
We are the beginning of something that exceeds our capacity for imagination.
Our lives may be a reference for untold amounts of people far into the future, right at the cusp of the invention of the digital world, when the history of humanity came into the light for the first time.
Are we living an inspiring life for all these people?
When they look through our videos, when they read our digital journals, what kind of person will they find?
Will they find someone who did their best and kept their head up in the face of the adversities of life?
Who loved, and appreciated what’s beautiful in this world?
Will they find someone who lifted others up, who created meaning, who stayed strong, grounded, and ruthlessly good, no matter what life threw at them?
Hopefully we are someone who these potentially millions of people can look back on and think, what an interesting and beautiful spirit, and be proud to be of the same blood.
Rather than being discouraged by the above as a hopelessly large responsibility, try to see it as nothing but an opportunity.
Every time you choose inaction, you choose something trivial, remember this principle.
Your life matters, every minute matters. What are you going to do for humanity? What are you going to do for God, given the consciousness you’ve been gifted?
You tend to find yourself in moments when it seems like nothing matters, failing to see beyond this tiny slice of time you currently occupy.
Your life at large is the very dawn of humanity in lucid memory.
This life you live now will someday look utterly foreign and otherworldly, and for that reason, very interesting.
And quite frankly, it is indeed like that in reality.
Why not make the best of the peculiarities of being alive now?